Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Avoid deicing salt damage on landscape plants

Deicing salts can damage landscape plants whether the salt is sprayed on plants from passing traffic or shoveled onto plants near sidewalks. Salts deposited on the surface of twigs, branches and evergreen leaves can cause excessive drying of foliage and roots. Salts can be taken up by plants and accumulate to toxic levels. Sodium salts can also cause a nutritional imbalance by changing the soil chemistry and harming the soil structure.

The most apparent damage is death of buds and twig tips as a result of salt spray. As stem tips die, plants respond by producing an excessive number of side branches. Accumulation damage is more slowly manifested and may not be noticeable for many months. Affected plants might show stunting, poor vigor, die back of growing tips and leaf burn or leaf drop.

Sodium salts are the most common type used for deicing, since they're inexpensive and most readily available. Sodium salts are the most likely to cause plant damage. When possible, use alternatives to sodium products, such as calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate (CMA).
The most apparent damage from deicing salts is death
of buds and twig tips as a result of salt spray.

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